Chimney swifts, which have declined 50 percent in the last 40 years, will be given new nesting sites.
Audubon Minnesota, based in Woodbury, received two grants on Thursday totaling more than $72,000 to help two projects: one to help protect declining numbers of chimney swifts, the other to encourage building designs that are safer for birds.
The two TogetherGreen Innovation Grants -- a joint effort of Toyota and the National Audubon Society -- are among 43 awarded for projects in 23 states totaling about $1.1 million.
The larger of the two Minnesota grants, $47,565, will be used to continue a chimney swift conservation project. Numbers of chimney swifts, beneficial birds that consume loads of insects, have declined 50 percent over the past 40 years, said Ron Windingstad of Audubon Minnesota.
Swifts need to roost on vertical surfaces and historically nested in hollow trees, he said. As old-growth forests disappeared, the swifts adapted by nesting in brick chimneys. Now, most chimneys have been capped or are constructed of metal, providing no grip points for the swifts.
The grant will provide seed money so that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, South Washington County Schools and Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. can build 20 artificial nesting sites -- 12-foot-tall towers 16 inches square -- to give chimney swifts a place to roost and a chance of survival. Such towers already have been built at schools in Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Newport.
The new towers will be built at elementary schools, nature centers, parks, the Minneapolis American Indian Center and on tribal lands.
The other grant, $25,000, will help Audubon Minnesota in its effort to create a bird-friendly network of building designers and architects.
Hundreds of millions of birds are killed in window collisions each year. Audubon Minnesota has documented mortality in more than 100 bird species along the Mississippi Flyway alone.
With Edward Heinen Architectural Consulting and the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota College of Design, Audubon plans to create a set of bird-safe building guidelines for use in construction.
The hope is that more birds that migrate through Minnesota's cities end their migrations exactly where they intend to -- safely situated on their breeding or wintering grounds.
Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999